Among wild birds, 15 species are officially called canaries, all of them small finches in the bird family Fringillidae. Many other species, especially those with bright yellow feathers, may also be called canaries as nicknames, but they are not technically part of the canary family. However, the island canary (Serinus canaria) is a true ancestor of today's pet canaries.
Often called the “common canary” or “Atlantic canary”, this bird has been bred domestically for centuries. And today, more than 200 breeds of domestic canaries are kept as pets worldwide. All pet canaries, however, share similar traits that make these small, charming birds instantly recognizable.
The original wild canary is a bright yellow bird with gray-black streaking on the back. Domestic canaries come in a wide range of colors, from yellow, white, and greenish shades to bolder red and even black. Their markings vary, and some pet canaries can have patchy or blotchy appearances. Their feathers are almost uniformly smooth, though some breeds have short crests, frills, or even mop-like feathering on their heads. These birds aren't usually chosen for appearance but are favorites because of their stunning voices.
All types of canaries have melodious songs and elaborate whistles. Their cheerful voices are one of their most endearing characteristics, though they do not mimic unusual noises and cannot speak words. They can become quite noisy, especially mature male canaries that may be looking for a mate. All canaries become more vocal in the spring as changing daylight levels trigger their mate-seeking instincts. Females tend to sing somewhat less, but all canaries are adept songsters.
These are smaller birds, averaging just 4 to 5 inches in length with an 8 to 9 inch wingspan. This smaller size means canaries are ideal for owners with limited space that could not accommodate larger pet birds. Of course, a larger habitat will give even a small bird more space to explore, but if space is at a premium, a canary can be a great pet bird choice.
Canaries are also cleaner than larger pet birds. They tend to throw less debris out of their cage and are less likely to shred toys or papers in their cage. This helps minimize the necessary cleanup for a canary's habitat making it easier to provide these birds with proper care.
The pet canary's small, triangular bill is ideal for eating insects, fruits, and plants in the wild, and a pet canary should have a varied diet to ensure their nutritional needs are met. Approximately 80% of your canary’s diet should be fortified food, and 20% can be small bits of fruits or vegetables, with seed s as an occasional treat. Canaries are especially fond of millet sprays. All pet birds, including canaries, should always have access to plenty of fresh , clean water.
It is important to provide a variety of appropriate toys to keep your canary engaged and happy . These small birds do not require large, elaborate play items, but they will enjoy different perches, especially natural twigs and branches for enrichment. Mirrors, bells, and swings are other great toys for pet canaries, and they will happily flit about their cages perching here, there, and everywhere as they investigate different toys.
Bonding With Your Pet Canary
Pet canaries adapt best to new families if they are adopted as young chicks, but even adult canaries will grow to bond with their owners. Keeping the bird nearby is essential, as the more a canary is around you, the stronger the bond will become. Positioning the cage in a busy family room will acclimate the bird to their family flock and will provide mental stimulation with different noises. Whistling and talking to a canary can also help them feel more comfortable.
It's best to keep canaries on a schedule, particularly for mealtimes and bedtimes. Using the same whistles or sounds at each feeding time can help the bird recognize the schedule, and they will learn to respond appropriately. In time, canaries can even be hand-tamed for holding and perching on fingers, especially if they're rewarded with their favorite treats.
A canary may not be the most glamorous pet bird, but these sweet singers are excellent (and popular) choices for beginning bird owners or anyone who would like an easy-going feathered friend.
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